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Bayern 1 VfB Stuttgart 0

Champions sign off with last-gasp win

Bayern finished their 24th German championship-winning season on a high as Claudio Pizarro’s stoppage-time strike earned a tight but deserved victory over southern rivals VfB Stuttgart on Saturday afternoon. The match was hardly a thriller, butwas in one sense merely a prelude to the championship shield handover ceremony and the night-long party planned for the city.

The 71,000 full house at the Allianz Arena saw a bright opening, but the contest soon became a typically end-of-term affair with no clear-cut chances of note in the first half, although Arjen Robben was a bundle of energy and ideas for the home team. Munich produced bursts of urgency in the second period but Huub Stevens’ well-drilled Stuttgart team frustrated the home team for long spells and the crowd seemed set to witness the first goalless draw in Munich for over two years only for Pizarro to win it with the last kick of the match.

A 29th victory of term means FCB finish on 90 points, with three draws and only two defeats during the campaign. The last domestic fixture of term is next Saturday’s DFB Cup final in Berlin against Borussia Dortmund, who finished second in the Bundesliga a full 19 points off the runaway champions.

Two new faces

Guardiola made three changes to the team that beat Hamburg 3-1 last weekend, as Philipp Lahm and Mario Götze both missed out with injury and Jerome Boateng served the first game of a two-match ban. Mario Mandzukic, Rafinha and Daniel van Buyten came into the team, with Thiago on the bench for the first time after a two-month layoff.

The last league line-up of term featured Manuel Neuer in goal, David Alaba, Dante, Van Buyten and Rafinha in defence, Javi Martinez and Bastian Schweinsteiger in central midfield, Thomas Müller and Robben out wide, and Toni Kroos in the hole behind Mandzukic.

Few chances in first period

Following a festive warm-up programme and the home side’s emergence onto the field in their new 2014/15 kit for the first time, Alaba fashioned the first chance just ten seconds after referee Bastian Dankert whistled play underway, but Müller steered a gilt-edged opportunity wide of keeper Sven Ulreich’s far post. Kroos dragged a long-range effort wide, but VfB made a couple of half-chances too through Guinea international Ibrahima Traoré.

Despite Robben’s best efforts down the right the pace dropped for a spell, with ex-FCB youth Georg Niedermeier flipping a close-range effort over Neuer’s bar and Ulreich tipping a Mandzukic blaster round the post. The Croat was just beaten to a Rafinha cross and Schweinsteiger headed the ensuing corner wide as the champions forced the pace, but Mandzu’s 32nd-minute volley and Van Buyten’s effort were blocked and Müller glanced a header wide of the target.

There was a blow for FCB after 37 minutes when Schweinsteiger limped out of the action, his place going to Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg. Robben placed a free-kick too close to Ulreich and then curled his next attempt over the bar but the game remained goalless through to the interval.

Pizza delivers

Hojbjerg soon made his mark after the restart with a muscular challenge to recover possession and a shot across the face of the VfB goal, before Rafinha’s drive was deflected for a corner and Ulreich dived bravely to thwart Alaba. FCB camped out in their opponents’ half and it seemed only a matter of time before the opening goal, Ulreich saving well from Robben on the hour and Dante heading a corner wide, before Claudio Pizarro replaced Mandzukic with 64 minutes on the clock.

FCB took a breather for a spell and VfB sub Cacau warmed Neuer’s gloves after 72 minutes, but Guardiola’s men fought back and veteran Pizza should have done better with a clear-cut chance skilfully created by Alaba. Hojbjerg shot wide, Robben had the ball in the net five minutes from time only to be hauled back for offside and then both the Dutchman and Alaba saw goalbound efforts saved by Ulreich. Van Buyten scooped a chance wide of the near post, but it was not over yet and Pizarro brought the crowd to its feet and ensured the mood was right for the party with the winner from outside the box two minutes into stoppage time.

Live match report for by Chris Hamley